EL SEGUNDO AND ONTARIO, CA — Looking at the young defensemen of the Los Angeles Kings, the spotlight is on Drew Doughty and Jack Johnson. But another young defenseman came up to big club to play some solid minutes in seventeen games last season.
Indeed, 24-year-old defenseman Davis Drewiske got a late recall from the Manchester Monarchs of the American Hockey League, the Kings’ primary minor league affiliate, and filled in admirably on the Kings’ blue line.
“I got to play more and more the longer I was here,” said Drewiske. “I got to play in a lot of different situations and a lot of different guys. I got a good feel for the speed of the game for some of the opponents and for the guys I played with. It was a great experience.”
“I think it was a good first year,” added Drewiske. “I got a lot of confidence coming into this year, coming off the end of last year and I’m looking forward to get going here.”
The 6-2, 222-pound native of Hudson, Wisconsin played four seasons with the University of Wisconsin before being signed by the Kings as an unrestricted free agent on April 1, 2008. He began the 2008-09 season with the Monarchs where he scored a goal and added thirteen assists for fourteen points with 95 penalty minutes in 61 regular season games.
This season, Drewiske, while still unproven, is likely to lock down the number six defenseman position with the Kings, at least to start.
“It’s a big step, but it’s one that I was ready for,” said Drewiske. “I got some great coaching here and especially with Mike O’Connell [who handles Pro Development and Special Assignments for the Kings], working with us down in Manchester on the defensive side of the game, how to read and react.”
Although he is primarily a stay-at-home, defensive defenseman, Drewiske showed some versatility during his stints with the Kings last season, even getting some ice time on the power play and on the penalty-kill.
“I consider myself a defensive guy first, but I can jump in offensively when I need to, maybe fill in on the power play if there’s an injury or something,” Drewiske stressed. “But I will always consider myself a defensive guy first, but continue to work at my game so I can be ready for whatever situation the team needs.
“I’d like to consider myself a good, all-around player,” Drewiske added. “I just want to work on my skills and be ready for whatever situation the team needs me for.”
Drewiske knows what the Kings need him for, first and foremost.
“It’s going to be defense first,” he said.” We have to protect our net and defend. That’s always the first thing I’ll worry about. Be physical in the right situations, making good decisions with the puck and being decisive.”
Late in the overtime period, Drewiske went down to block a shot and wound up taking a slap shot in his face.
Most players would be writhing in pain on the ice after that, but not Drewiske. Instead, after a second or two, he was back up on his skates and only after the referee spoke to him did he skate to the bench.
“Drewiske blocked one there with about five seconds left,” said Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick. “That was huge. Someone wound up for a one-timer and [Drewiske] just came up huge.”
“You see the kind of person he is, bouncing up after getting hit,” said Kings head coach Terry Murray. “That’s a pretty solid guy to be able to handle that.”
Like many of his teammates, Drewiske worked hard during the off-season on his strength and conditioning.
“I spent a couple of weeks out here with Tim Adams, [the Kings’] new strength coach, so I could get a feel for his philosophy and what he’s doing,” said Drewiske. “But then I went back to Madison, Wisconsin, where I went to college. I trained with some of my old teammates, guys who are playing pro now.”
“Our off-ice training was at the Kohl Center,” added Drewiske. “We had ice at the Kohl Center, too. [I worked out with] a good group of guys I played with in the past and won a national championship with. We have a special bond. We pushed each other and worked hard. They’re all trying to accomplish the same kind of thing, so it was a good atmosphere to go back to.”
If Drewiske can show that he is ready for the rigors of the National Hockey League this season, the Kings will have four defensemen playing regular shifts who are 25 years of age or younger in Doughty, Drewiske, Johnson and Matt Greene. Even more important, these four players are starting to look like the solid, young defensive core that the Kings have never had before.
Although the bottom could still drop out from under them, the young defensive core, assuming it develops as mentioned above, is another reason that the Kings’ future is looking brighter.
Audio Interview with Davis Drewiske (raw, unedited)
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